Published on July 3rd, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Marytre Cranks Grunge-Basted Rock on New Studio Slab

As far as local singer/guitarist James George is concerned, the most powerful elements of grunge rock never died. He loved and related to the massive barre chords, distortion, feedback, pounding, and wailing when he was a bored teenager. He loves the sound and spirt of the stuff as a not-so-slacker adult, too. As leader of the Charleston-based rock trio Marytre, he’s situated as one of the Lowcountry’s most qualified ambassadors of grunge.

Marytre is set to release a new studio album titled Merry Tree this week. George, bassist Donny Bastian, and drummer/singer David Dietze recorded the heavy-duty eight-song collection at Encore Music in Mt. Pleasant with engineer/producer Dwayne Greenhill at the helm.


George formed the first version of Marytre in 1996 while attending high school in Berkley County. Their music was equally influenced by the post-punk grunge-rock of the time and the riffy acid-rock and ’70s metal of such Sabbath, Zeppelin, and Blue Cheer. George relocated to the Seattle area for a number of years where he further enhanced his love for grungy, Pacific Northwestern-style rock riffs. He formed the latest version of Marytre with local musicians in 2011.

“The bass player Donny is really into things like the Beatles and Tom Petty,” George says of his current bandmates. “My drummer David is really into Metallica and Faith No More. And of course he loves Dave Grohl. Who the hell doesn’t? That guy is awesome.”

This week, Marytre is in the middle of a 10-day tour that will wind through the Carolinas and make its way back to Charleston on Sat. July 6 when they’ll perform an afternoon acoustic show at Encore Music in Mt. Pleasant before heading to the Music Farm for the official CD release show.

“This is our first Music Farm show, and we’re super-excited, to say the least,” George says. “We’ll have some surprises that I’m sure the people are going to get a kick out of. As for the rest of this year, we’re going to continue to ride this crazy wave and see where it takes us. We’re going to continue playing out of town to further establish ourselves across the region, and we’re also going to be shopping our new CD out to multitudes of labels, radio stations, and publications. We really want to get our music out to as many people as possible.”


Marytre (photo by Crytsal McConnell)

Marytre recently launched a redesigned website with updated pics, band bios, and videos. The music on Merry Tree certainly draws from the early grunge era (think Nirvana, TAD, Screaming Trees, Melvins) with a bit of stoner metal and ’70s rock. Some of it leans toward the poppy side of Dinosaur Jr. and and the Foo Fighters. Some of it is pure sludge.

Lead-off track “Don’t Ask Me How” leans toward the Nirvana-like four-chord style with a hint of Kurt Cobain strain in the singing. The mid-tempo “Creep” is more anthem-like in the vein of Alice in Chains. The outta-tune rhythm guitar and loud/quiet dynamic of “Infidel” works well.

George employs the clean/distorted guitar tones on the slightly psychedelic power ballad “Mary,” too. Songs like the J Mascis-esque “Trigger Happy” and acoustic guitar-driven “Polar” show off George’s power-pop songwriting chops. The bass-driven rocker “Question the Answer” starts out gloomy and weird before revving into a Helmut/Pixies style rave-up. The head-banging “Fall With Me” (7:41 minute long) effectively concludes the album with a slow and noisy Melvins-style drone.

Marytre will headline the Music Farm on Sat. July 6 at 8:30 p.m. with support from Go Jenny Go, Sheldon, For What it is Worth, and American Murder. Admission is $10 in advance and $13 at the door. Visit marytre.com and musicfarm.com for more.

      1. ‘Infidel’ by Marytre


Marytre at the Tin Roof, April 2013 (photo by Jessica Mickey)



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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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